Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Odds & ends

Some quick takes on a lot of things I've been accumulating.

--Champ, the Nessie-like creature that supposedly inhabits Lake Champlain, has been sighted again.

--Some people just have a dark cloud hanging over their heads. A woman in Lombani, Zimbabwe has a hail of falling stones following her! She believes an evil spell was cast over her. Her family and neighbors have kicked her out of the village.

--The mysterious "blob" that washed ashore in Chile last year has finally been identified. DNA testing has shown that it's just a bunch of decomposing whale blubber. One is reminded (for some reason) of the infamous exploding whale of Oregon incident (memorialized here in print by Dave Barry, and here in the infamous video).

--New-fangled "thin client" computing is predicted to be the next big wave in networking. Yeah, we used to call them "mainframes".

--As if we didn't have enough to worry about, now our computers may be making us sick. The electomagnetic field produced by computers may be causing our bodies to produce excessive amounts of seratonin, which contributes to tiredness and depression.

--An interesting opinion piece on the practice of "tethering", making content proprietary to the device it's used on.

--Archivists are working to save the only audio recording of JFK's assassination. It seems the original, recorded over a police motorcycle radio, is now too fragile to even play, and no quality reproductions were ever made. Goodness knows, the JFK conspiracy theorists could use some extra fodder.

--Also in digital restoration news, the Film and Television Archive at the University of California has restored the 1914 silent comedy, "Tilly's Punctured Romance". Widely considered to be the first feature-length comedy, it starred Charlie Chaplin in one of his early roles (relatively early, considering he appeared in 34 films in 1914, his first year of movie acting), and was pieced together from 13 copies.

--Speaking of movies: theater owners, take note.

--It's now the 21st century. Where are the flying cars? I WAS PROMISED FLYING CARS!

--On an even lighter note, this guy has put together "The Case That Must Not Be Named", a casemod inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. (Thanks yet again to bOINGbOING.)

--From Fahrenheit 9/11 to Fahrenheit 451: Atty General Ashcroft ordered despository libraries to destroy five publications containing legal information not "appropriate for external use". (Apparently Ashcroft considers public knowledge of the law to be dangerous. Yeah, 'cause we might find out what he's up to.) Fortunately, the order was later rescinded. I don't even have time to go into a rant about how angry it makes me that the "Justice" Department even *considered* making federal law information inaccessable to the public. I'm worried that now that their open attempt to occlude the law failed, they may pull something even more insidious in secret.

--Florida: the state that just keeps on giving and giving...ulcers and migraines, that is. The state, never having recovered from the 2000 elections, and still being critized for its planned use of electronic voting machines this November, announced that a computer crash had caused them to "lose" data compiled from its first use of touch-screen voting machines. How, um, convenient. Does Florida even realize that *no one* trusts them on voting issues anymore? Who the hell are they trying to fool? (Oh, and isn't Florida's new Secretary of State even scarier-looking than Kathleen Harris?)

--Finally, Minnesota's Republican Party has asked its members to go door-to-door and collect information on their neighbors' voting habits. On the surface, they claim that it is nothing more than a streamlining of their phone and mailing lists. My personal opinion is that neighbors reported as non-Republicans are going on a sort of "watch" list. Me, I plan to screw with the data if any of my "neighbors" come knocking on my door to grill me about my political leanings. Then I'm going to pull the shades and take out a restraining order.

--Brandi and a shrunken head. Separated at birth?

--The Daily Oliver. No, it's not me. It's some guy's weimaraner. But a cute weimeraner.

--Vintage comic book ads. Back when we were young and gullible.


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